March 1, 2010

No, not the ancient TV serial or the little sixties ditty by Cream, were talking about a multi-country EU project on “A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research in Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling.”

On the 17th February 2010 I legged it away from the office to see a presentation at York University by Ann Macintosh, the Professor of Digital Governance at Leeds University. It was an interesting 40 minutes, where I scribbled lots of notes, one of them being the above project, which she is running one strand of. The project is entitled IMPACT or “Integrated network for policy making using argument modelling & computer assisted text analysis.” I can’t seem to get the letters to tie up with the acronym, so one or the other may be wrong! The actual bit Ann is focused on is around argument analysis, tracking and visualisation. It only started on the 1 January, so don’t expect massive announcements yet but the idea is to pick up feedback from social and other media towards assisting the development of government policy.

Ann admitted that her background was as an engineer, and that she was employing her knowledge of artificial intelligence, first with e-petitions in Scotland, and now using more advanced tools for the EU.

being a philosophical term, so well used by my hero Immanuel Kant, for a contradiction.AntinomyShe and some of the audience appeared to agree with my observation that politicians in representative democracies were unlikely, in reality, to relinquish power to the citizens and encourage direct or deliberative democracy. So, all the talk of e-democracy that has appeared over the years in e-government literature is, in the immortal words of Joe Hill, little more than pie in the sky. In my academic work I have labelled this one of the antinomies of e-government.

As the Swiss and Swedish have demonstrated technology is not a requisite for more direct forms of democracy, but political willingness and constitutions may be!